** I'm going to start with a disclaimer: I am NOT a healthcare professional. So, please take everything I say with a grain of salt and consult your doctor if you have persisting migraines. These are just quick and easy home remedies to keep me going throughout the day. **
Hello, fellow sufferers of migraines! My name is Emma and I suffered from migraines for 12 (nearly) straight years!
Just trying to make light of this unfortunate health concern :)
A quick note, these are listed in no particular order other than the order that I thought of them. Use what works best for you, talk to your doctor, and use what you have
A little back story: I was diagnosed with migraines when I was only 8. I remember vividly sitting in second grade crying because I was in so much pain. The lights hurt, the noise hurt, and the rides home on the bumpy country roads in an old bus were nearly unbearable. I finally went to the doctor and was prescribed my first round of medications. I had to be on them for several years before my migraines finally went away. Until they came back again.
They came back full force when I was in middle school. Another type of prescription migraine medicine for me. And the cycle continued: went away, came back in high school when I was probably late freshman (9th grade)-early sophomore (10th grade), went away again, and then January 2019 was a real breaking point for me when they came back again. Before they came back, I was convinced they were gone forever, possibly puberty/hormone-related. But, I was wrong.
The real tipping point for me was one day at work and I remember it so clearly. I remember them coming back in January and suffering for months without doing anything. This was normal to me so I just went with it. Roughly around April or May was when my boss noticed my work was not where I normally performed one day and he asked what was wrong. I told him I had a migraine but it was nothing. I just brushed it off, again this was normal for me.
He asked how long I had had the migraine and I nonchalantly said "hmm...probably three days?" The look of concern and shock on his face gave me a moment of realization: this truly is not normal. I explained to him my back story of migraines and how this was my new normal and then he convinced me to go to the doctor.
** Just a reminder: though I started my vegan journey in January 2019, I wasn't fully vegan. We still had animal products in our home, I was uncomfortable in social situations, I forgot to read labels, I couldn't speak enough Japanese to explain my diet, and so forth. It wasn't until about August or September-ish of 2019 that I was 99% vegan. More on that here. **
It was a period of a few months of trying new medications, getting blood work done, trying more medications, and several doctor visits. Nothing helped.
But, one day, I realized I hadn't had a migraine in a few weeks, maybe even a few months. I quit taking all the medications because if they weren't helping, why pump my body full of chemicals?
I made the connection though: the more animal products I cut out, the more days I could go in between migraines. It's safe to say now I haven't had a migraine in nearly a year! Remember above when I first associated my migraines to high levels of hormones, probably from puberty? Well, I was still getting pumped full of hormones only this time through the foods I ate. You can learn more about how much antibiotics/hormones we are truly consuming from animals in this video.
It finally clicked: because I am no longer eating hormones from animals, my migraines have finally stopped! And of course, this is just speculation based on my own migraine trends. I would get them for YEARS at a time when I was younger and this time it was only about six months, right when I finally went fully vegan.
We will see if they ever come back. And I'm not saying they're completely gone. I still get headaches and migraines, but much less frequently. I'd say maybe 1-2 headaches a week and maybe 1 migraine a month. Considerably less and much easier to tolerate and continue life as normal.
Through those months, I wanted to find some natural, easy, and even low waste remedies to headaches/migraines. I felt sick from taking so many painkillers so I wanted to try something that wasn't affecting my body in other ways.
These remedies are not perfect. They might not even work for some of you but other remedies might. For me, They worked enough to keep me going throughout the day. I hope you find something useful in this post and I hope your migraines also disappear.
I'm not an essential oil guru, but peppermint and lavender do truly work wonders for migraines. Make sure you have quality oils! I do about 1/4 tsp of almond oil (olive oil or coconut oil would work too. Essential oils need a carrier and should not be placed directly on the skin) and 1-3 drops of peppermint oils in the day time and lavender before bed (peppermint makes you jazzy while lavender relaxes you). I rub this on my temples and even sometimes on my forehead or neck. The more the merrier! Just be sure to keep it out of your eyes and mouth!
There are pressure points all over our bodies and you can do more research on this but I am going to talk about the ones that worked best for me. These don't rid the migraine but certainly provide a little relief.
1. Temples, of course
Giving my self a quick massage in my temples or asking my husband to rub them for me (as well as a complete head massage) is wonderful. If you can't do this or need more pressure for longer, try wearing a tight headband to put constant pressure on your temples.
2. Upper neck
This is probably my favorite and works for all sorts of headaches personally. For me, I love putting pressure on the area both left and right of the spinal cord where my head meets my neck. I'll insert an image below. I like pressure here and a little below and massaging here for a few minutes is great.
My personal favorite is that soft spot between your thumb and forefinger. If you put pressure there and feel around, you can feel a nerve. This does not offer instant relief, but after a few minutes of pressure, it almost relieves a migraine! This was my favorite remedy for when I was at work. I remember carrying a clip in my pocket and whenever I felt a migraine coming on, I'd clip the clip to this pressure point and I was still able to work.
There are many more pressure point remedies online, but these are my favorite.
Use temperature to pull the blood out of your head
This sounds a bit crazy, but it's simple. If you get a migraine at home, this is the trick for you as this does not work great at work or other public scenarios.
All you need is some hot water in a sink or bathtub and an ice pack. Place your hands and feet in the hot water and place an ice pack on your neck. This allows some of the blood throbbing in your head to be pulled back into your appendages. If anything, the cool on your neck should provide some relief.
Avoid your triggers and sensitivities
Personally, my triggers fluctuate, but my sensitivities remain constant. When I get a migraine I become extremely light and noise sensitive as well as movement (like bumpy cars, jumping, etc). So, while this won't be a cure, it will provide some relief. When you feel a migraine coming on, try your best to avoid your sensitivities to avoid any more pain.
For me, if I felt a migraine coming on, I would try to dim the lights, put some earbuds in if I was in a loud environment, and try to relax as much as I could. Sometimes (like when you have them constantly) you simply can't avoid your trigger or sensitivities, but do the best you can.
When I explained things to my boss and co-workers, they were cognizant of being a little quieter and if my migraines got too bad, they allowed me to go home a little early to get some rest. Hopefully, the people in your life will be understanding as well.
I know for a fact that this does not help everyone. I have talked to fellow migraine sufferers and for some of them, caffeine is a trigger! So, be careful with this one. For me, though, caffeine helps dull my migraines a bit. This has worked for me ever since I first got migraines. Whenever I get one, to this day, my first thought it hydrate and my second thought is to get some coffee, tea, or even chocolate which has small amounts of caffeine in it.
Like I just mentioned, this is usually my first thought when I get a migraine or even a headache in general. Hydration can help ease so many medical issues and for me, that includes migraines. Again, this is not a cure for my migraines, but it sure helps ease them.
Watch out for extra hormones
Maybe you're like me and a lot of added hormones can cause migraines. You might be more sensitive to hormones than others. For example, I have the Mirena IUD which contains hormones, but this is not a trigger for me. What was a trigger, personally, was the excess hormones I was receiving from dairy, eggs, and meat. You might be like me, or it could even be the result of your birth control. Talk to your doctor about this! If you are already plant-based, there is a possibility it would be your birth control. But, lucky for you, there are lots of hormone-free options out there.
I didn't use to like ginger so this would not have worked for past me, but now, I am quite obsessed with ginger! I actually read about this remedy in a great book I'm reading called "How Not to Diet" by Dr. Michael Greger about the benefits of different plants. He recommends mixing 1/8 of a tsp of ginger into a glass of water to drink. But, I'm sure other forms of natural ginger would work as well. For example, homemade ginger ale (try to avoid store-bought with all the extra garbage in it) or homemade ginger candy could be a benefit as well.
Another natural and easily accessible tool is magnesium. Personally, I did try this about a year ago and it didn't work for me. But, it could be a benefit to you if your body is lacking magnesium. I got mine in a prescription form, so like most of these remedies, please consult your doctor.
Try Eliminating Different Foods
Like me, you could be suffering based on your diet. I didn't start eliminating meat, dairy, and eggs because of the migraines, that was just an amazing side effect of going vegan. You can start there as well or try to narrow it down some other way. Maybe keep a food journal that also has a place for you to keep track of days you have migraines. See if there are any trends and if you can begin the process of eliminating different foods.
While, yes, personally, cutting out meat got rid of 95% of my migraines, I still got frequent headaches. I used to go to the chiropractor when I did gymnastics, but never made time for it the last nearly three years. It wasn't until I literally threw out my back the day after I turned 21 that I realized I needed to take care of my bones. So, I went, and upon doing so, I realized that my headaches also subsided even more. Chiropractic care has been proven to improve so many ailments besides just a messed up spine.
Another important part of our health is taking care of our muscles. Especially if you are constantly stressed, working a high tempo job, or anything of that sort. Massages are a great way to relax and get rid of any added stress stored in your muscles that might be contributing to your migraines.
Though, I cannot get this piercing right now (because it is out of regulations in military uniform), I have heard that this works wonders! Supporters of the piercing claim that it activates a pressure point that then helps relieve migraines. If my migraines ever did come back, this is probably going to be my first try.
And many, many more!
These are just my favorite remedies, ones that work well for me, or ones that I have heard work well for others. Let me know what you think and please let us know down below if you have other remedies that work well for you.
I hope this helps and I hope my story inspires you and gives you hope. There is an end to the migraines one way or another!